Last school year, it occurred to me that the empty classroom next door would better serve our campus as a Maker Space. I applied for a couple of grants to get some supplies, and my GT students helped me learn more about the new products – from Cubelets to Little Bits. They also came up with the name for the space – B.O.S.S. HQ (Building of Super Stuff Headquarters).
The goal has always been to open the space up to all of the students at our school. But it has been a slow process – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’ve realized that “beta testing” B.O.S.S. with different groups has helped to refine the best way to structure the space and give students access to the materials. Without someone dedicated full-time to running B.O.S.S., there are a couple of “hacks” that I’ve made to the typical Maker Space structure to make it more successful. I thought I would list the steps taken so far in case anyone else who reads this is considering this type of venture.
This school year, a couple of other wonderful educators joined me in creating a Maker Club. It consists of 24 students, 2nd-4th grades, who meet once a week after school. We started the year making games for our Cardboard Arcade, then moved into making movies. We are currently exploring robots, and getting ready for a Robot Olympics. Finally, we will be making electric circuits for the last couple of months.
The students in Maker Club can “earn” extra time in B.O.S.S. I have opened it up one morning a week before school so the students can explore more. Maker Club members can work a morning as helpers and monitors, which earns them time to come and make. Some of them also earned time by doing a special project for me to help decorate B.O.S.S. Before the holidays, I gave out 5 shopping bags – each filled with different materials, and charged the volunteers with creating something for our B.O.S.S. bulletin board. They each had one word (Think, Make, Improve, Create, or Inspire) they had to use in their creations, but had no other rules.
So, now we are up to 24 students who have regular access to B.O.S.S., plus 24 Robotics students who are using it right now, as well as my GT students who have “leveled up” to earn time in B.O.S.S.
But that’s not enough.
My next mission is to get some other students to come to our morning B.O.S.S. time. So, I will be giving teachers B.O.S.S. passes that they can distribute at their discretion. In addition, we are going to have a monthly B.O.S.S. Challenge for the school, for which students can make something to earn time in B.O.S.S. (I’m currently looking for the best badging system to use for this.)
We are also going to have B.O.S.S. open to the teachers on our next Staff Development day so they can see what it has to offer. Then they can either bring classes to the space, or check out materials to use in their own classes.
I’m slowly working out the details, and this obviously isn’t the way to do it in every situation. Many school libraries are adding Maker Spaces, rather than having a separate room. Schools like Brad Gustafson’s Greenwood Elementary are creating Mobile Maker Spaces. If you would like to see some other resources, you can check out my “Make” Pinterest Board.